Music

Here’s Why Heavy Metal Enthusiasts Have Frequented a Latin Dance Club in Los Angeles Since the Start of the Pandemic

Club Bahia is a Los Angeles staple on Sunset Boulevard that is known for its dancing and live Latin music over the weekends. Patrons come to the nightclub to dance to reggaeton, cumbi and salsa. So, naturally, when you think of Club Bahia, the words “heavy metal music” don’t usually come to mind. But like many things, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed that.

In 2018, LA resident Kim Galdamez created Metal Merchants Market as a way for fans of the Japanese heavy metal band Sabbat to gather, socialize and meet the band. The “metal market” was such a success that Galdamez decided to continue organizing the events.

Galdamez recognized the metal markets as a lucrative opportunity for the metal community — and the LA music community at large — to gather, swap merch, and make some money. After the pandemic hit, Galdamez decided to shift her full attention to the metal markets — one of the few outdoor activities that Angeleno heavy metal lovers could enjoy safely. But the task proved more difficult than Galdamez originally imagined.

A week before her next metal market, the venue that Galdamez originally booked to host the event canceled at the last minute, and Galdamez was in a bind.

In a lucky twist of fate, Galdamez happened to be driving down Sunset Boulevard when she saw Club Bahia’s sign and a number to call for inquiries.

Galdamez called the number and asked the club owner: “Can I use your parking lot?” Club Bahia’s owner responded, “I have two parking lots.” And the rest was history.

Now, around once a quarter, metal heads make their way to Club Bahia to flood their floor and parking lots with booths selling everything from vinyl records, to band t-shirts, to boar skulls and deer vertebrae.

And the event is rapidly expanding. The first metal market in November of last year had 25 vendors — already not too shabby for a niche local market during the height of the pandemic. The most recent event hosted 50 vendors.

Galdamez thinks the popularity of the events has something to do with the desire for human connection during such a prolonged period of isolation.

“I think not having shows, a lot of people weren’t able to interact with friends that they probably would on a weekly basis,” she explained to LAist. “It’s nice to have different generations interact and have everyone in one place.”

Galdamez has hosted five “metal markets” at Club Bahia since last November and each meet gets even better than the last.

As for Galdamez, Club Bahia may not have been her first venue choice, but it is certainly the only venue that she now has eyes for.

“I like it so much and it has so much great history,” she told LAist. “It’s hard for me to go to another location.”

Who knows? Maybe the mashup of these two sub-cultures will create a genre of music that will change the world. We, for one, would love to hear what heavy metal cumbia sounds like.

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